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Wi-Fi 6E Explained (vs. Wi-Fi 6): The Highs and Lows of the New 6GHz Band

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You might have heard of Wi-Fi 6E—the extension of the Wi-Fi 6 standard—with lots of buzz words and superlative likes “4K”, “8K”, “ultimate,” “super-fast,” etc.

Rest assured that most of what you’ve heard is marketing hype. Indeed, Wi-Fi 6E is not all it’s been cracked up to be.

Don’t get me wrong! It’s still an excellent and valuable addition to existing Wi-Fi bands, just not the way networking vendors or mainstream tech sites want you to believe so that they can sell products or get more views and clicks.

With that out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the new standard—without the technical jargon—and set the right expectations.

Dong’s note: I first published this piece on May 22, 2020, and updated it on April 6, 2021, to add additional relevant information after months of real-world testing.

The Netgear RAXE500 vs. Asus GT-AXE11000
The Netgear RAXE500 and Asus GT-AXE11000 are the two first Wi-Fi 6E routers on the market that you can get today.

What is Wi-Fi 6E, exactly? It’s a new freeway!

In a nutshell, Wi-Fi 6E (a.k.a. the 802.11axe standard) is an extension of Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax).

6E is a novelty because it operates in the all-new 6GHz frequency band, while existing Wi-Fi uses the traditional 2.4GHz or 5GHz band that’s been around for over a decade.

Other than that, Wi-Fi 6E has all the characteristics of Wi-Fi 6, including orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) and Target Wake Time (TWT).

OFDMA and TWT help improve overall Wi-Fi efficiency and mobile clients’ battery life, respectively, over the previous Wi-Fi 5 standards.

In terms of speed, Wi-Fi 6E is the same as Wi-Fi 6. Generally, you’ll get 600Mbps per stream via an 80MHz channel or 1200Mbps via a 160MHz channel.

So then, why do we even need Wi-Fi 6E, you might wonder.

The upside of 6E: It’s all about the channel width

We don’t need Wi-Fi 6E. We want it. But let’s back up a bit. To understand Wi-Fi 6E, we first need to know why the existing 5GHz band of Wi-Fi 6 just doesn’t cut it.

The pain of DFS and mixed clients

Wi-Fi transmits data via channels measured in Megahertz (MHz). If a Wi-Fi band (5GHz, 2.4GHz, or 6GHz) is a freeway, channels are lanes. Wider means more space needed and potentially faster speed.

And to deliver top performance, Wi-Fi 6 needs to operate in the 160MHz channel width, currently the widest.

And just like a freeway, you put two narrow lanes together to get a wider one. Generally, a 40MHz channel consists of two contiguous 20MHz ones, 80MHz equals two contiguous 40MHz, and two adjacent 80MHz channels combine into a single 160MHz one.

Consequently, a 160MHz channel gobbles up eight contiguous 20MHz channels.

Replacing “MHz” with “meter” gives you a better idea of the Wi-Fi vs. roadway analogy.

As you can imagine, space runs out fast, and on the 5GHz band, we can get about two 160MHz channels. And here’s the most significant issue: Not all (20MHz) 5GHz channels are exclusively used for Wi-Fi.

A road is not only for cars but also bikes and other types of vehicles.

Indeed, some channels are reserved for other more consequential applications, including radars, which get the first dibs. A Wi-Fi broadcaster automatically changes to another available, possibly narrower, channel if radar signals are present.

When a cyclist gets on a bike lane, a car must get off the bike lane. And if the vehicle is too wide for the available lane (or lanes,) a new car is needed—we can’t just extend the road willy-nilly.

For this reason, these shared channels are called Dynamic Frequency Selection or DFS. On a good day, they are all available for Wi-Fi use at all times, but then there’s no good day if you live in certain areas. When the DFS channel switching occurs, clients will be briefly disconnected from the Wi-Fi network.

And here’s the fact: On the 5GHz band, you can not have a 160MHz channel without using DFS—there are just not enough contiguous non-DFS sub-channels to form the 160MHz width.

To create a single large lane wide enough to pull an oversized truckload, you might need to use all of the road’s lanes, including the shoulders.

So, in reality, 5GHz 160MHz channels are either fully or partially DFS, as shown in the diagram below.

wi fi 6E Bands
The 6GHz band is much broader than the 5GHz and 2.4GHz ones, and it doesn’t need to use DFS channels, which the existing 5GHz must use to deliver 160MHz performance.

The 5.9GHz portion

Up to late 2021, the 5GHz band has enough space for just two 160MHz channels. Both require DFS sub-channels.

Starting in 2022, this band gets a third DFS-free 160MHz channel when devices supporting the 5.9GHz portion of the spectrum are available.

But even then, the 5GHz band’s 160MHz is still limited. Most importantly, existing clients generally don’t support the 5.9GHz portion, making it far less useful since a Wi-Fi band typically works in a single channel at a time.

As a result, when you live within tens of miles of an airport or weather radar station, your Wi-Fi 6 router likely appears not as “reliable” as you’d like—you’ll get brief disconnections now and then. That is especially painful when you play online games or use video conferencing often.

Even if that doesn’t bother you, remember that many existing Wi-Fi clients only use 40MHz or 20MHz channels. So, all home Wi-Fi networks have to struggle between compatibility and performance.

Wi-Fi cheatsheet: The basics of current standards

Debut YearChannel Width
(in MHz)
Theoretical Speed
(in Mbps)
per Stream
(rounded numbers)
Max Number Streams
Used in Clients
(Max Speed Theoretical(•) /Real-word)
(in 2024)
802.11b199920MHz/11MbpsSingle-stream or 1×1
802.11g200320 MHz/54Mbps1×1
(Wi-Fi 4)
Quad-stream or 4×4
(Wi-Fi 5)
(Phasing out)
60 GHzObsolete
(Wi-Fi 6)
Dual-stream or 2×2
(Wi-Fi 6E)
(Wi-Fi 7)
2023 20MHz/225Mbps
(Wi-Fi HaLow)
(85Mbps to 150Mbps)OWE
Wi-Fi standards’ real-world theoretical speeds
(•) The absolute best theoretical speed of a real-world connection in an ideal connection before interference, signal degradation, and hardware incompatibility are taken into account. Among the mainstream standards, depending on the number of streams and channel width in use, this theoretical ceiling speed is lower, often by half. In any case, you need to discount this ceiling number by another 30% or 50% to get the real-world sustained rates.
(••) The 5GHz band is split into two portions as sub-bands.
(•••) The 5GHz or 6GHz band is split into two portions as sub-bands.

6GHz band to the rescue

Wi-Fi 6E deals with this spectrum shortage and problem by using an entirely new frequency band—the 6GHz with 1200MHz wireless spectrum. That opens hardware up to large Wi-Fi-exclusive airspace, including seven 160MHz or fourteen 80MHz channels.

As a result, Wi-Fi 6E devices will operate freely without the need to accommodate older Wi-Fi standards or spectrum regulations.

In other words, with Wi-Fi 6E, your devices don’t need to bother with 20MHz, 40MHz, or even 80MHz.

The new band is like a brand-new freeway with special lanes optimized for speed.

On top of that, you won’t have to be concerned about the potential sporadic, brief disconnections caused by radar signals.

And in my experience so far, Wi-Fi 6E clients can indeed connect at top-negotiated speeds and deliver impressive sustained throughput rates. You can read more about this in my reviews of Wi-Fi 6E routers.

So to recap, if a Wi-Fi band is a freeway, then channels are lanes, and we have this crude analogy:

  • The 2.4GHz is like a road that includes only small lanes for bikes.
  • The 5GHz is a freeway with lanes for bikes, cars, buses, and trucks.
  • The 6GHz (Wi-Fi 6E) only has unique tracks for a high-speed rail system.

The fastest possible speed of Wi-Fi 6E is the same as that of Wi-Fi 6 — that’s 1.2Gbps per stream. The 6GHz band makes the top speed more easily achievable by ditching the need for DFS channels.

And that brings us to the main shortcomings of Wi-Fi 6E.

Wi-Fi 6E’s shortcomings

Wi-Fi 6E has a fair share of drawbacks. It’s not the end-all-be-all of Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi 6E vs. Wi-Fi 6: New hardware required

To use the new 6GHz band, you’ll need a broadcaster, like a router, and a client that supports it, such as a phone, laptop, or desktop adapter card. No existing Wi-Fi equipment, including the latest Wi-Fi 6 routers, works with this band.

You can’t drive a car or ride a bike on rail tracks.

Initially, it was rumored that some new Wi-Fi 6 routers already have Wi-Fi 6E-ready hardware to be activated later via firmware updates. However, by the end of 2020, this proved utterly false.

This shortcoming is the same as the move from the single-band (2.4GHz) to dual-band (2.4GHz + 5GHz) that took place back when Wi-Fi 4 debuted in 2009.

Extra: Wi-Fi 6E brings in a new type of tri-band equipment

Like the dual-band case, for backward compatibility, you can expect any Wi-Fi 6E-capable router to have a 5GHz band, and likely a 2.4GHz band, built-in. In other words, it will be a tri-band router.

Yes, we have existing tri-band broadcasters—like the Asus GT-AX11000, Netgear RAX200, or TP-Link AX11000—but they all have one 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands, primarily to address the bandwidth issue.

In other words, traditional tri-band broadcasters of Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 standards have an additional 5Ghz band. Each of the 5GHz bands occupies half of the band’s spectrum, called upper and lower channels.

On the other hand, a Wi-Fi 6E broadcaster needs all three bands—2.4Ghz +5GHz +6GHz, each occupying the band’s entire spectrum—to be compatible with all existing and future devices.

Come to think of it. We will likely find quad-band routers that support Wi-Fi 6E with an additional 5GHz or 6GHz band.

Since a Wi-Fi connection always takes place in a single band at a time, before Wi-Fi 6E, we only needed dual-band clients (2.4GHz + 5GHz). With the 6GHz band’s availability, new and upcoming Wi-Fi receivers will likely also be tri-band (2.4GHz + 5GHz + 6GHz). And that’s the case for all newly released clients going forward.

For the 6GHz band to be successfully adopted, networking vendors must keep devices compatible, regardless of the Wi-Fi frequencies available at any given time. And incorporating multiple bands within the hardware is the only way to achieve that.

Wi-Fi 6E’s second major shortcoming: Much shorter range

Higher frequencies always mean shorter radio broadcasting ranges: FM and AM radio stations broadcast much lower frequencies than Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi 6E vs. Wi-Fi 6 Signals Samsung S21 Ultra
Here are two Samsung S21 Ultra phones connecting to Wi-Fi 6 (left) and Wi-Fi 6E. Note the little number 6 or 6E above the Wi-Fi symbols that showed what Wi-Fi standard the phone was using and their signal strengths.

The 5GHz band has a shorter range than the 2.4GHz one. So, naturally, the 6GHz band is likely behind the former. Of course, this assumes that the 6GHz will use the same power level (dBm) as existing bands since more power can compensate for the higher frequency, which remains to be seen.

For now, in the US, the 6GHz uses the same 30dBm power limit, similar to the 5GHz case. And with that, in my real-world experience, Wi-Fi 6E has nothing to call mom so far in terms of coverage.

Indeed, I used two Samsung S21 Ultras—the first fully working Wi-Fi 6E device on the market available in mid-2021—to try out the ranges of the Netgear RAXE500 and Asus GT-AXE11000. And the result was quite interesting.

I generally don’t use phones or apps for Wi-Fi testing, so this is just an anecdotal experiment. More on that in this post.

The photos above and below were taken when I placed the two phones precisely 45 feet (14 m) away from the RAXE500 within the line of sight.

You’ll note how the 5GHz band has much better signal strength—the bars—and negotiated speed than the 6GHz. (They were the same when I used the Asus GT-AXE11000, by the way.)

Wi-Fi 6E vs. Wi-Fi 6 Speeds Samsung S21 Ultra
Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-Fi 6E (right) in negotiated speeds via two Samsung S21 Ultras

It’s worth noting that the numbers you see in the photos don’t mean much in terms of real-world performance. They are just indicators.

After extensive anecdotal testing, though, I’d say that the 6GHz has about 70 percent of the 5GHz range in an open space. If you place the receiver behind a wall, that number reduces to 60 percent or even just half.

This band might evolve in the future—hopefully with higher broadcasting power. You can follow my reviews of Wi-Fi 6E devices to see how it pans out in real-world usage over time. But for now, the 6GHz can’t penetrate thick objects very well.

And for that reason, the 6GHz band likely will not spell the end of 2.4GHz, which has the best range. It will not go away any time soon, if at all.

The short range is not a big deal if you live in a small open house. However, it will make the 6GHz a terrible choice as the backhaul band for a large-area mesh system.

Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E Module
Here’s the first Wi-Fi 6E module on the market, the Intel AX210NGW. Naturally, it’s a tri-band adapter that can work in the 2.4GHz, 5GHz, or 6GHz at any given time.

Higher cost

And finally, another obvious shortcoming of Wi-Fi 6E is the cost.

Tri-band and quad-band hardware require more materials and sure will be more expensive. Again, remember that you need both broadcasters and clients of the same standard to enjoy Wi-Fi 6E.

Those new Wi-Fi 6E routers I mentioned in this post are among the most expensive single Wi-Fi broadcasters, starting at over $500 apiece. You’ll find even more costly devices soon.

Rapid adoption

Still, the move to Wi-Fi 6E has been impressive.

The Wi-Fi Alliance first introduced Wi-Fi 6E in early 2020. By April of the same year, FCC approved the use of the 6GHz spectrum for Wi-Fi.

In early 2021, the Wi-Fi Alliance launched the Wi-Fi 6E certification program, and there have been a growing number of Wi-Fi 6E broadcasters.

On the side of clients, other than getting phones or computers that have 6GHz built-in, you can upgrade a Windows computer using an add-on module, such as those supporting the Intel AX210 chip.

Intel and Microsoft seem only to support the 6GHz band of the tri-band AX210 Wi-Fi 6E chip on Windows 11. If you want to use it with Windows 10, check out this post for special driver software and detailed instructions on how to make it work.

At this rate, the 6GHz band is expected to be Wi-Fi’s mainstay. And future clients will support both Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E.

The takeaway

In a sentence, Wi-Fi 6E means easily achievable fast Wi-Fi 6 speeds at a close range via an all-new 6GHz frequency band.

Wi-Fi 6E in a nutshell

Wi-Fi 6E is a new Wi-Fi standard, an extension of Wi-Fi 6, that uses an entirely new 6GHz frequency band to deliver the same data rates as Wi-Fi 6 but more reliably. In return, it has a shorter range than the 5GHz band.

The 6GHz band won’t connect with any 5GHz or 2.4GHz client. Wi-Fi 6E requires new hardware on both broadcasting and receiving ends. It’s not decidedly better (or worse) than Wi-Fi 6, but just an additional wireless option.

When it comes to Wi-Fi, it’s always getting connected at the time of need and not having the latest and greatest that matters. And the new 6GHz band doesn’t mean the good old 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands are on the way out. It’s an additional band that’s not meant to replace anything.

To put things in perspective, we’ll likely never ditch the traditional bicycle or gas cars when EVs are the new trend today. All will remain options for different needs, albeit at different usage levels.

That said, always go ahead and get the equipment that serves your needs today, no matter what Wi-Fi standard. Among other things, Wi-Fi 7 is also around the corner.

Wi-Fi 7: Beyond the rumors

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67 thoughts on “Wi-Fi 6E Explained (vs. Wi-Fi 6): The Highs and Lows of the New 6GHz Band”

  1. wow!
    That was rude.

    I’ll keep reading through your information because it does at least sound like you know might what you are talking about.

    Don’t bother responding, though, because I sense it would simply lead to a silly back-and-forth about nothing other than ego.

    Take care.

    • I’d take rude over nonsense, Daniel, but I just responded in kind. No ego on this end, just the type of honesty you weren’t used to. And I could have easily blocked you from commenting if I was so worried about what you’d say — that will happen if you keep violating the rules above. You do what you do, but please don’t waste others’ time unnecessarily.

  2. Excellent material! However, still not dumbed down enough for me. Close, but still leaves me guessing. My situation: I have AT&T 1G fiber using AT&T provided BGW320-500 gateway. Located centrally to my house and property (rectangular home on a large rectangular lot). Low WIFI signal strength at the two ends of the home and very low at to ends of property. I have wired ethernet (Cat6) at each end of the home, but obviously need WIFI at the ends of home (throughout home).

    Looking at Tri-ban mesh systems. Currently the ASUS Zenwifi xt8.

    Two nodes: I would place each of the two nodes at the two ends of home, plugging them into the wired ethernet for “hardware backhaul” (if I am understanding correctly). Would I plug the node end in via the WAN port (2.4G), leaving the other end plugged into the Gatway? Or via one of the two 5G LAN ports? Further, would I then need to disable the wireless at the Gateway? If true, then the center of my property would have to be served via the wireless of the two end-nodes. Would they simply be in Access Point mode? Leave the Gateway alone (except for disabling wireless).

    Three node: Which leads me to wonder if I should have 3rd node located next to the Gateway (if the answer above is that I need to disable wireless on Gateway). That node would serve the center of my home as the Gateway is currently. Similarly, would all three simply be Access Points connecting to the Gateway (which would serve the Ethernet ports on Gateway but not have wireless signal)?

    6 vs 6E — I don’t understand if 6 vs 6E would be of any advantage and/or if 6E would limit use of likely all my devices which are not 6E devices. I believe the Asus xt8 is not 6E.

    • Then it’s not excellent enough, Daniel. Or maybe you just didn’t read it. So give it another read and follow the related posts, you’ll figure things out.

      The next time, don’t use compliments as a way to get something for nothing or to cover your laziness — it’s very off-putting. It’s a no-nonsense website you’re at and that goes both ways. Don’t have time? Hire a local professional!

  3. thanks for the article. this explains why my s23 ultra using 6e has much worse connecting down in my basement vs using the 5Ghz band

  4. I’ve read a bunch of your articles (always VERY helpful) to help me decide what kind of mesh system/setup would be best for the 3000 sq/ft brick bungalow I live in. I have plaster walls and live within 10 miles of an airport–I’ve been leaning toward the ASUS XT8 but I don’t want to buy something I can’t take full advantage of. I work from home and do a lot of video conferencing, and I’m currently suffering on the Arris gateway AT&T gave me for my 1 gig fiber connection (I struggle to get 10% of that speed on wireless). What would you suggest?

    • Generally, Mike, you don’t want to use the gateway provided by the ISP, speed aside, there’s a privacy issue, too. As for what you should use, you should check out this post first — from your questions, it seems you haven’t read that one.

      As a rule, I don’t comment on specific situations but only try to point folks in the right direction. But there’s no such thing as taking “full advantage” of anything, and you shouldn’t use any device (or anyone) that way in the first place.

      • Thanks, Dong, I appreciate the reply. Point taken on the matter of “taking advantage” (especially about people). I’ll take a look at that article and keep learning.

        • Sure, Mike. It’s better to use stuff below its capacity than at capacity. Everything needs some breathing room, so to speak.

  5. I recently upgraded to a Netgear Orbi AX11000 with the quad-band router and dedicated 5G backhaul, and it’s interesting to see how it works with my Wi-Fi 6 devices. I have a Pixel 6 Pro with Wi-Fi 6E and an Acer A515 laptop with a Wi-Fi 6 chip. The Pixel is one of only four devices in my house with Wi-Fi 6E, and two of them are connected to the Internet via Cat 6A Ethernet cables, so the other two usually have the 6G band all to themselves.

    In the room where I have a satellite with a wired backhaul connecting its 2.5G port to the 2.5G switch near my router, my Pixel has reached speeds of up to 943 Mbps and is consistently in the 800-900 Mbps range. By contrast, my Wi-Fi 6 laptop’s top speed is 723 Mbps and the average is around 400-500 Mbps. These speeds are plenty fast for me, but it’s just interesting to note the measurable difference between Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E.

    • That’s because of the specs of the hardware, Ronald. The two share the same speed grades explained in this post. But yes, chances are you’ll get faster speeds on the 6GHz.

  6. While things have changed since you posted this, I found your article informative and has given me things to consider as I consider upgrading my current router/extenders setup.

    That said, one thing that concerns me with how you tested 5G vs 6G. If I’m not mistaken, you used a few Samsung S21 Ultras for conducting your tests. In my opinion, this is never a good approach to conducting a fair test. Your results assume that the S21’s 6G was flawless which all early 6G compatible devices weren’t.

    I do take into account that when you wrote this article, 6G was still very new, and not many devices supported the new tech. I feel that some sort of disclaimer in the first paragraph is needed. Otherwise, it at least appears that you might have approached this subject with some bias.

    I hope you don’t feel that I’m trolling or anything like that. I always appreciate those who take the time to write in detail on new devices.

  7. Not sure if you got the idea of wifi 6e dong. I’m interested to know your thoughts after reading the below.
    I’ve not tested 6E but most issues with wifi 5 is not having enough 80Mhz channels (4) vs 6e(14) and adding MU-MIMO its supposed to be better at bandwidth and vastly improved latency that most wifi issues fall into. Did you do a iperf/download test from these phones from 45 ft. 30ft etc. I’m not concerned about the the 6e end devices as that kind of bandwidth is not what most people really care about. I’ve seen so many issues with my asus ac3100 that all went away when i forced the smart connect to allot 65% bandwidth (as i got triband) to 5Ghz and set 2.4 to a manual channel (3) as asus doesn’t do well with automatically. I would never solve apartment dweller issues and simply ask them to get a 6E router when they get cheaper because the issue is with latency, almost never bandwidth. I usually stream 20-35M plex 4k from my nas connected to the router downstairs.

    {Link Removed}

      • Don’t get me wrong. I did read your post. You are an avid tech enthusiast and i respect your views even though you’re focus seems to be too wide. Cisco’s whitepaper covers range anxiety at the end. I believe 1200Mhz unlicensed spectrum is one of the best things that happened to technology this decade also coming from the federal government which is the last place one would expect. Now other countries are following suit as well. I can see things happening like Thread being a successful protocol that would transform the ioT landscape and wifi getting cheaper and internet more accessible all that started from 2020. The beauty of regulation when you get it right.

        • No offense taken, Santosh. It just seemed pretty clear to me that you didn’t read the post with an open mind — I could be wrong. I generally don’t repeat what the vendors say and take it as truth. So far, what I mentioned has been based on my real-world experience with existing 6E devices, and I don’t love or hate the new standard. It is what it is.

          • I will continue visiting your website that has valuable information. Keep up the good work. White papers are not marketing. Id love to test 6E myself someday in apartments that refuse to move their AP away from walls/cabinets. Most websites/streaming services are dynamic and people usually have one or two main places they use wifi and it has chairs/sofa’s. Terrible wifi is easy to test with ping latency. (cmd- ping -t continuity in the stream is far more important than lowering quality as most of them aren’t very picky. Most consumer ISP routers don’t offer much (changing dns) and people usually only upgrade routers if they know a thing or two which is not most people so i still feel compelled to help with these usecases as regulation is difficult to enact these drawbacks.

          • Thanks for the support, Santosh. You’ll find only no-nonsense content here, that’s for sure. 🙂

    • “set 2.4 to a manual channel (3)”

      Santosh, channels 1,6, and 11 are best on the 2.4 ghz band in the US.

      “The recommended channels to use on 2.4 Ghz are Channel 1, 6 & 11. As can be seen in the above diagram, these channels do not overlap into each other. ”

      First result in google search “2.4 ghz channel choice”.

      Also from Metageek:

      “In the 2.4 GHz band, 1, 6, and 11 are the only non-overlapping channels. Selecting one or more of these channels is an important part of setting up your network correctly. Currently, many wireless routers automatically select the channel for you upon initial setup, where depending on your wireless environment, it could lead to slow Wi-Fi speeds and interference. “

      • Jim,

        yes you’re right, Adjacent congestion aci is far worse than cci so the general advice is to stick to automatic and reboot the router for it to reconfigure the channel. I was referring to my case where ch3 was the only way to stop dropping ping packets and its been stable since last 2 years so i guess there is more things to learn from real world testing.

  8. I don’t get why the routers cost $500+ when the Intel AX210NGW card you show can easily be bought for $36, why don’t they just slap that into their routers, can you elaborate?

    • A router is much more complicated than a receiver chip, P. In fact, vendors might pay the same for the Wi-Fi chip (or even much less since they buy in volume), but they have to put in a lot of other stuff around it to make a router — and then need a profit, of course. For more on routers, check out this post.

      By the way, there’s nothing you can do with just the chip, like the one you mentioned, itself — you need a computer (or a phone) attached to it and the whole package can cause you a lot more than $500.

  9. Hi Dong. All things being equal (I know they never are) which one would you recommend the ASUS RT-AX82U $243 or the ASUS RT-AX86U $312 ? Signal strength for multi stored house and penetration being the main consideration in my opinion. What say you? Many thanks for your time and input.

    • They are possibly the same on this front, Bozz. But you might need more than one broadcaster considering the layout.

      • Thank you for your response Dong. Could I quickly ask you about the ASUS/TUF AX5400/Routeur and if you have any feedback about this one and how would you compare this to the above in the same context.

        • It has always been coming, Alvin. It’s been in the talk for a couple of years now. But you’ll need to wait for a while before it’s really here.

  10. Hello,

    I’ve been using an ASUS RT-AC66U in my small condo unit and it’s been great so far. However, I just think that it’s very old and it’s time to upgrade. I’m a tech savvy person and I use a 200Mbps down/200Mbps up Internet subscription.

    Is it worth it to upgrade to WiFi 6 at this point? Or is it still not a mature technology? I was holding off upgrading because of WiFi 6E but after reading your article, it does make sense to not wait for it if I need to upgrade now.

      • That makes sense and is kinda the answer I was expecting. In all honesty, I’m using (and will be using) the “router” merely as an Access Point. I have a separate Gigabit switch and I’m using pfSense as my firewall/router that does everything a router can do.

        I can probably do away with the separate switch after I upgrade this Asus router to a better one. 6 Gigabit ports would suffice my needs in this loft type of place, for now.

        With that said, which is better between the AX68U and AX86U considering the former is the newer variant? How is tur AX88U looking in comparison?

  11. Hi Dong,
    Thanks for such useful information about WiFi6E and devices you have tested, one quick question, I am having trouble with S21 Ultra (SM-G998U) unlocked phone from AT&T to find 6G channels from Asus AXE11000, Netgear RAXE500 and Linksys Hydra Pro AX6600. Can you help to advise on which S21 Ultra phone you were used for the testing?

    • I used unlocked ones, Wil, the same as yours. It must be something with the settings of the phone or the routers you’re using.

  12. Great read. I now have a better insight and understanding on the workings/behaviors of 6E. My ASUS RT-AX86U arrives next Tuesday and while it doesn’t have 6E I think I’ll be good for a while. That and the fact that I live in a semi rural area with really no WiFi competition.

  13. Presently dual-band can be had for 100$/£. The wifi6 routers are weak at this price point.

    I’m thinking whether a cheap wifi 6 router could be a stop gap for those of us with ethernet ports in rooms which have poor signal where it acts as an access point for mostly non-wifi6 devices. The whole selling point of wifi6 was it can handle more devices simultaneously?

  14. Nice write up. I recently tried the RAXE500 with my S21 Ultra but I wasn’t able to get above 600Mbps down with Speed test on the 6Ghz band on symmetrical Gig service. It was very strange as I saw other folks get 900 down.

    I switched back to the Archer AX6000 for now while prices on 6E routers come down.

    • You were probably too far from the router, J. Wi-Fi 6E has a very short range. But using a mobile device to test speed is never a good idea, especially for something you know that’s faster than 400Mbps.

      • I’d love it if that were the case but my S21 Ultra was 6″ above the RAXE500 during testing. While I did like the RAXE500, I can’t stomach the price tag at $600. I will wait until later this year for the TPLink X206 to come out with its 10GB ports which is much more future proofed than the RAXE500

  15. Hi Dong,

    Thanks as always for the dedication to this for our benefit. Once question on your 6E analysis with Bandwidth…

    I noticed you used WPA3 on the 6ghz and WPA2 on the 5ghz. Wouldn’t that affect the speed results? Can you run both at same encryption level or maybe even turn encryption off for the test? Just curious.


    • No that workdn’t, Bob. But 6E will NOT work with WP2 and many 5GHz clients don’t support well this standard. If anything, the settings only help with what I was trying to explain. It was a best-case scenario.

    • This depends on the environment, Bob, but in an open space, you can expect 50m at best. It’s definitely shorter than that of 5GHz. Keep in mind though, the range doesn’t just drop off entirely, the distance here means where it still provides a meaningful connection. More here.

  16. SD 865+ mobile SoC are said to be compatible with Wifi 6E.
    So the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (SM-N986U), Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, Asus ROG Phone 3, OnePlus 8T, Lenovo Legion Phone Duel, and any other phones using it, should take advantage of it, as soon as base stations become available…

    • Thanks for the info, Clement. By the time you can take advantage of that, though, you might have gotten a new phone already. 🙂

    • “Compatible with” is not the same as “available”. A lot of things are compatible with a lot of things, but, unless a specific piece of hardware and/or license is also included and activated, the compatibility is only a bullet point on the sales brochure.

      This is especially common with electronics.

  17. Hi Dong:
    A few clarifications.
    1. AM Radio broadcasts occur in kilohertz frequencies, not megahertz.
    2. OFDMA, MU-MIMO, 1024 QAM, and 6 GHz are all required for Wi-Fi 6E broadcasts. Further, the usable broadcast bandwidths for Wi-Fi 6E include 20Mhz, 40Mhz, 80Mhz and 160Mhz.
    3. In previous Wi-Fi standards, endpoints decided which Wi-Fi channel(s) to use. But, no more. Because the wireless access point should have the best view of local Wi-Fi airwave usage, the current Wi-Fi 6E host (WAP or router) decides which channel(s) the endpoint device will use.

  18. Many current wifi6 chipsets are capable for 6GHz, that’s where the rumors came from, but they forgot one thing, does the FEM (or PA/LNA) in your routers support 6GHz? If no, that means NO.

    • idk.. have u seen the mod to add pcie to the pi 4? yeah I’m just being pandentic because even a pin compatible upgrade then requires firmware mod and that’s probably blob and a bit esoteric if not entirely.

      possible yes
      probable probably not bug maybe

      also is broadcaster dongs term of did wifi adopt this

      it’s cringe

  19. Great info Dong thank youi! I think it’s safe to say I will follow my common practice of giving technology time to mature. By the time we have stable and improved firmware it takes pretty much almost a year. Look at the recent high end wifi 6 routers. Now as of May netgear and asus both have released some nice firmware updates on improving their routers and adding features. Once we seen wifi 6e routers it would probably be a good idea to wait another year to see if even much hardware is out there to support it. All we know is that supporting hardware always takes so long to catch up. I mean we don’t even have much wifi 6 capable hardware out even today so it makes sense to wait. I am not holding my breath 🙂

  20. Thank you for the information. If I was looking to upgrade to mesh network,

    Setup: 3600 sq ft 3 level house, r8000, wired bridge r7000 and extender. All on different floors, have dead spot issues, low signal. I do good amount of gaming, streaming, alot of wired and wireless devices, IOT with this information should I:

    Get best bang for your buck mesh (maybe wifi5 or wifi6) thinking that nighthawk small boxes. And upgrade everything to 6e in a year or 2.

    Just stick with what I have now and use custom firmware to adjust and go with 6E when available

    Is there any reason/advantage to get high end router and getting 6E 2nd router/satellites

    Thank you for any feedback

    • We don’t know how Wi-Fi 6E is going to pan out, yet, Rich. But your current situation with multiple extenders like that is not ideal. Almost any mesh system will be better. Wired backhaul is the best way to go. Maybe start with this post.

  21. Many current WiFi 6 routers are based off the Broadcom BCM6755 and BCM43684 radios – for example the Asus ZenWiFi XT8.The BCM6755 SoC spec page ( seems to indicate support for WiFi 6E, “Expanded 6 GHz frequency coverage including spectrum up to 7125 MHz expected to become available under new regulatory rules.” Have any manufactuters said whether they would provide WiFi 6E support through a firmware update? It seems like the hardware would support it.

    I understand the perdictiment this puts manufacturers in, however I hope they’ll at least consider support through a firmware update. I’d even be open to a paid-for-license upgrade model where I pay a nominal fee to unlock WiFi 6E support.

    Anyways, have you heard anything in this regard?

    • Yeap, B. That was my hope and initially, Asus kinda hinted that could be the case. Later on, though, they said it was a no no. My guess is the chips were released way before FCC approved the spectrum so they might not have had the correct specs. As for right now, vendors are quite firm on new hardware. But that might change, though unlikely. But I sure will update this post as I learn more.

  22. I think the chart is potentially confusing since wifi6 uses 80/160mhz interchangeably based on the tier of hardware. AX1500/1800 Broadcom solutions for example have no access to 160mhz channels since the SoC doesn’t support it. The same case can be argued for the few wifi5 clients with 160mhz support.

    1×1 wifi6 is 600mbps on 1024-QAM(native) with 80mhz channels. 1200mbps with 160mhz
    1×1 wifi5 is 433mbps on 256-QAM(native)with 80mhz channels. 866.7mbps with 160mhz

    Just looks and potentially would indicate a bigger jump than it is I guess? Especially considering the limited channels on 5G and required DFS support.

    6E would have the valid argument if ratified to support 160mhz as a minimum spec, but I haven’t looked into that. Channel support isn’t an issue here, though.. 😀

    • Agreed and thanks for the input, J. I’m trying to figure out how to make it more clear without being overly convoluted.


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